Whether you’ve had an injury or surgery, your body needs to heal. You may need to stop exercising, or at least modify what you do for a while. The choices you make for food are important in the healing process. During your recovery or rehabilitation, while you’re unable to exercise, you can still avoid gaining weight and heal quickly.
It comes down to conscious decisions for healthy eating. It’s not just a matter of watching fat and caloric intake. Along with self-control, nutrients help your body heal. Obviously, the habit of healthy eating is better to have in place before the injury or surgery. When I was first diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, I laughed when I was told, “You’re extremely healthy—with cancer.” I felt it was the ultimate booby prize. I soon understood the blessing of having a high health baseline. I never missed a chemo treatment, and when I was midway through treatment I had a few people (including a doctor in the oncology clinic) question when I’d begin chemo. I wore a scarf, not a wig, so I found this question bizarre. A friend pointed out to me that I looked healthier than others they’d seen with cancer. Whatever the reasoning, I’m sold on having a high baseline of health.
Physical activity will decrease during the recovery period leading to decreased appetite. If some adjustment to eating doesn’t happen while in recovery you may gain weight. But by negating the right nutrients and caloric intake, your body can’t heal as quickly. Some people take the “opportunity” of having an injury or surgery to eat too few calories. That’s a huge mistake. A healthy balance is necessary.
Eat from all the food groups. They work together. Consciously graze throughout the day rather than eating only three times, but larger amounts. This is important to keep your blood sugar levels consistent and metabolism active. Also, so that when you do eat, you’re not starving—thus gulping down any and everything, especially right before you head off to bed.
When you eat carbohydrates for energy, your body will use the protein you eat to repair your muscles. If you don’t eat enough carbs, your body will burn the protein you eat for energy, and not for healing muscles. This makes it harder on your body to heal. This isn’t to say load up on carbs, especially if you’re not active. Eat smaller portions of carbs and other foods high in nutrients.
After an injury or surgery, you need extra protein to help recovery. Prior to cancer, I was a near vegetarian, eating only fish and sometimes chicken. During chemo I craved roast beef and beef hot dogs. At the end of cancer treatment my oncologist told me it was very important for me to eat more protein than before cancer, and to keep eating meat.
Fats and antioxidants contain anti-inflammation properties. After an injury or surgery, the first visible response is inflammation. While it’s not a nutrient, I’ve used arnica montana 30x strength two weeks before, and one-two weeks after each surgery (seven). Swelling and bruising was almost nil in every surgery.
Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and encourages the body to form collagen. Collagen is a needed protein for strength, flexibility and repair of tendons, ligaments and strengthens bones. Vitamin A helps with cell development, cell growth and the immune system.
Carbohydrates: whole grains, pasta, breads, fruits, veggies
Protein: lean meat, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, low-fat dairy
Fats: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados
Antioxidants/Fruits high in vitamin C: kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes